Can hashish assist with dangerous behaviors?
Approximately 5% of Americans live with body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) such as compulsive hair pulling, nail biting, or skin pecking. In many cases, BFRBs arise out of a need to calm themselves down, and those who experience them can often do a BFRB without being aware of it.
Unlike people who harm themselves, people with BFRB usually have no intention of causing pain to themselves or physically harming their bodies, but all BFRB cause sufferers to repeatedly touch their hair, body, or both in ultimately harmful ways. Depending on the BFRB, they can lead to bald spots, scars, wounds, infections, and other problems.
There is still a lot to learn about BFRBs, but cannabis and hemp-derived CBD can be used to treat these disorders, or at least provide much-needed relief to those who live with them.
Cannabis and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: What Does Science Say?
Types of body-focused repetitive behaviors
While hair pulling, (trichotillomania) nail biting (onychophagia) and skin picking (excoriation) may be some of the best-known BFRBs, the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors states on its website that all repetitive self-care behaviors include biting, pulling, Plucking or scraping your own hair, skin or nails and causes damage to the body that may be contained under the BFRB umbrella.
Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, Medical Officer of Jushi Holdings, names lip biting, cheek biting, nail picking, scabbing, knuckling, grinding teeth, and skin biting as just a few of the care-related behaviors that can be defined as BFRBs.
Causes of body-focused repetitive behaviors
“While the exact cause of BFRBs remains a mystery, it is believed that these underlying disorders are related to obsessive-compulsive disorder and are caused at least in part by anxiety,” said Dr. Mechtler.
In particular, hair pulling and skin picking are classified under “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders and Related Disorders” in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual for Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). Although BFRBs share some symptoms with OCD, it should be noted that not all BFRBs are grouped under the OCD label.
Cannabis and depression
Across the board, anxiety and stress seem to play a major role when it comes to BFRBs, and depression can also be an underlying cause. Dr. Junella Chin, chief medical officer of askCMD.com, said it was important to work with a health care provider to find out if a BFRB is caused by anxiety or depression.
It is also believed that temperament, environment, age at onset, stressors, and even genetic predisposition can play a role in the development of BFRBs, according to the TLC Foundation.
A 2014 article reviewing multiple twin and family studies found a link between genetics and the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder and related conditions such as hair pulling and skin picking. With regard to pulling hair in particular, one study on twins estimated the likelihood of heredity at 76%, while another at only 32%.
Childhood trauma was thought to be a potential cause of compulsive hair pulling, but according to the TLC Foundation, people with BFRB do not seem to experience early life trauma overall at a higher rate than the general population.
Does cannabis help or hurt the immune system?
How cannabis can help with BRFBs
Dr. Mechtler names endocannabinoid deficiency as a possible cause of BRFBs. “The Endocannabinoid Deficiency Theory states that there are a variety of medical conditions, i.e. anxiety, migraines, chronic pain, IBD, etc., that are caused in part or entirely by low levels of naturally produced cannabinoids,” he said. This theory also suggests that these conditions can be improved and treated by supplementing the body with plant cannabinoids such as THC or CBD, he said.
“A small pilot study with dronabinol found that this could be a potential treatment to reduce trichotillomania [hair pulling]. Dronabinol is a synthetic THC and significantly reduced the impulsive behavior of the subjects in this study, ”said Dr. Chin.
In the study, 14 women who suffered from compulsive hair pulling received 2.5 to 15 mg of the synthetic THC daily for 12 weeks. The daily dronabinol doses resulted in a significant reduction in obsessive-compulsive hair-pulling symptoms in nine of the women.
Regardless, it’s important to remember that THC can relieve anxiety and, by extension, BFRBs. But for some, depending on how their body interacts with cannabis, THC can increase anxiety.
How to use cannabis for anxiety
Fortunately, a plethora of individual cases and a number of recent studies show that high-CBD strains of cannabis and hemp-derived CBD products can greatly reduce anxiety in most people, which means they should help many with anxiety-induced BFRB get relief To provide. “CBD, when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy, can be helpful in reducing stressful, obsessive, compulsive, and anxious tendencies,” said Dr. Chin.
Dr. Mechtler and his team conduct studies and evaluate the use of cannabinoid-based therapies for a whole range of diseases. “A consistent theme we see in our research is that the use of medical cannabis products, whether it be a high quality, third-party tested hemp-based CBD product … or through medical programs made from medical marijuana, tends to become significant Result leads to improvement in the anxiety of the study population, ”said Dr. Mechtler. “Since anxiety is likely a causative factor in BFRB, we can treat BFRB with medical cannabis by alleviating the underlying anxiety associated with it.”
CBD products can also help by improving restorative sleep patterns and relieving chronic pain, said Dr. Mechtler, as both are linked to a reduction in anxiety.
While people with BFRBs may find cannabis and hemp-CBD products helpful, it is recommended that a knowledgeable doctor be involved in treatment decisions as cannabis and hemp-CBD may not be the most appropriate treatment option. “It’s important to remember that cannabis is not a panacea. Other options that a well-qualified clinician might suggest could be behavioral therapy, conventional pharmaceutical interventions, and / or complementary therapy, ”said Dr. Mechtler.
Liz Enochs is a writer and journalist from a small Missouri town that you’ve probably never heard of. Besides Leafly, her work has been published by Bustle, Narrativ, USA Today, HelloGiggles, POPSUGAR, and many others. Most of the time you can find them in the forest.
View article by Elizabeth Enochs